A Michigan family is suing Walmart and Livonia police after their 25-year-old daughter was “emotionally scarred” when wrongfully accused of shoplifting.
An employee at the Livonia Walmart allegedly accused Jodi Kozma, who was shopping with her grandmother, of shoplifting hair ties and hiding them in her waistband, reports USA Today.
Jodi was handcuffed and allegedly muscled to the ground by police.
But Jodi had not stolen anything. She bought a 30-pack of hair ties and stickers that day and had the receipt for the items. The bulge in her waistband was just her cellphone.
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Her parents, Wendy and John Kozma, filed a civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court claiming that police used excessive force on their daughter. They say Walmart employees and security refused to treat Jodi as “special needs” and ignored the fact that her family explained she did not have the mental capacity to understand what was going on.
Her mother says Jodi is emotionally scarred from the incident and is now afraid of police and Walmart.
"If she were ever lost or stranded, we always taught her to turn and look for police. All of that has been completely destroyed," Wendy Kozma said. "I know that this has traumatized her. I want it to go away."
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Jodi's family says she has not been to Walmart since the incident and gets agitated when she sees Walmart trucks or commercials.
According to a 2012 letter from the Livonia police, they deny any wrongdoing.
"I have reviewed both video and audio recordings of the incident and find no evidence of unprofessional behavior or excessive force on the part of our officers,” wrote Livonia Police Lt. Francis Donnelly. “Based on my investigation, I have determined that your complaint against our officers is unfounded."
Jodi said she just wants an apology – and a bouquet of flowers because she says that is what people do in movies when they’re sorry.
The Kozmas are seeking unspecified financial damages and assurances that police and Walmart security will follow proper procedures when dealing with disabled people.
Sources: USA Today